"India keen on pipeline project"

Amit Baruah

Manmohan: we're in dire need of energy

"We desperately need the supply of gas that Iran has"Says Pakistan can do more about the Taliban

NEW DELHI: India was "keen on" carrying out the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a recent interview. When asked if the pipeline was a good idea, given that the United States did not approve of the proposal, Dr. Singh said, "We are in dire need of energy and we are keen on carrying out this project. The negotiations are proceeding."

The Prime Minister's support to the pipeline idea is at variance with what he told The Washington Post back in July 2005. At the time, he had pointed to the "many risks" in the pipeline project, given the "uncertainties" of the situation in Iran.

"I don't know if any international consortium of bankers would underwrite this. But we are in a state of preliminary negotiations, and the background of this is we desperately need the supply of gas that Iran has," Dr. Singh stated, his remarks two years ago virtually putting a question mark on the project.

In an interview to Corriere Della Sera, he said that the situation in Iraq suggested that democracy was "not instantaneous and that it cannot be created at the push of a button or pulling a trigger." On whether he agreed that the war in Iraq was accelerating the return of multi-polarism, the Prime Minister replied: "I agree, the world today is multi-polar. Above all, economically speaking, because the ascent of India and China is an irreversible fact and not only concerning the economy."

The Prime Minister maintained that he was extremely worried about the Middle East (West Asia). "And it is obvious that there are no military solutions, nothing can take the place of dialogue. Violence, all violence, represents a danger which should be eradicated above all in the Middle East."

Asked whether Pakistan could do more to stabilise the situation in Afghanistan, he stated, "The Taliban use Pakistan to organise themselves, certainly Pakistan could do more."

"Our relations with Pakistan are based on a constructive dialogue and I am attempting to solve the bilateral issues which are still to be dealt with," Dr. Singh said, pointing to the positive trends in India-Pakistan ties.

On whether the differences between India and Italy on the expansion of the United Nations' Security Council would cast a "dark cloud" during Prime Minister Romano Prodi's visit, he responded: "India has expressed its will to become a permanent member of the Council and those who believe in our credentials are increasing. Italy has its own ideas concerning the Council reform, but we can work together to find a solution. A cloud? No, even if it were to rain there will be no problems between Prodi and I."

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